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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in spring allergies

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We are heading into Spring, better known for those who suffer from seasoning allergies as the season of headaches, sneezing, itchy eyes and skin, as well as congestion. Allergies affect one in five Americans, and studies show allergies significantly impact workplace productivity, with one study reporting that Americans lose 3.5 million workdays each year due to allergies.

While you can’t cure your employees’ allergies, you can help limit the impact of allergens in their workplace. What is an allergy? It’s being hypersensitive to a substance – those who suffer have an overreaction from their immune system to the allergen, which can cause a physical response that outweighs the substance’s harm. There are several varieties of workplace allergens to consider, including:
• Animal dander and debris
• Food
• Industrial chemicals, such as solvents, bleaches and even cleaning products
• Latex
• Perfumes and odorants
• Pollen
• Dust
• Mold
• Wood dust and resins

It’s important for employers and employees to both understand the allergens specific to their workplace, including identifying triggers and best allergy treatment. Making sure work areas are very well-ventilated, have lower humidity to minimize mold and are kept clean and dust-free on a regular basis are great steps to lessening allergens. While it is near to impossible to keep all allergens out of a workplace, here is a list of some common and relatively inexpensive modifications that could improve your workplace health:
• Run the AC system during peak allergy season (do not open windows even though the weather seems perfect, the trees are releasing lots of pollen!)
• Use HEPA air filters – and change them regularly (monthly or more during peak allergy season)
• Make sure your workplace areas are cleaned regularly – and encourage your employees to clean and dusty their workspaces regularly as well
• Identify and repair any water damage – it doesn’t take long for mold to start growing
• Remove carpet and other absorbent materials that are known collectors of allergens
• Provide appropriate protective gear, such as respirators, face shields and gloves, when employees handle industrial chemicals or other irritants

Spring is a great time to jumpstart cleaning, hence the term Spring Cleaning! Keep your most important assets – your employees – as safe and healthy this spring and throughout the rest of the year. And keeping allergens at bay as much as possible is one great way to do just that!

Believe it or not, spring really is just right around the corner! And for over 50 million Americans that means those budding leaves and flowers bring a host of misery, including relentless sneezing, runny and congested noses, watery eyes, sore throat and headaches by way of pollen. Spring allergies can begin as early as February in the Midwest with tree pollen followed by grass a bit later.

For those in the workforce who suffer from spring allergies, this time of year can make it difficult to focus on the job or on proper safety measures for two reasons: the allergy symptoms themselves and the medications taken to combat them.

Here are some workplace and lifestyle tips to help win the war against springtime allergies:

Workplace
• Make sure your work areas are well ventilated and have proper humidity
• Regularly dust work areas
• Change air filters frequently
• Clean or replace soiled, dusty or moldy carpet – pollen and other allergens get transferred easily from clothing and shoes
• Working outside:
o Wear NIOSH-approved masks, which can filter at least 95 percent of pollen and other airborne allergens 
o Wear long pants, long sleeves, and gloves to protect your skin from allergens
o Work when cloudy skies and calm winds, if possible – pollen counts are higher on sunny, breezy days
• Take antihistamines that are low- or non-sedating during the day, including Loratadine (Claritin, Alavert), Fexofenadine (Allegra) or Desloratadine (Clarinex) – there are also many nasal sprays and even allergy shots that can help alleviate symptoms

Lifestyle
• Wash and change your clothes frequently as pollen clings to clothing
• Cover up when working outside – long pants, long sleeves, gloves and masks
• Install HEPA filters to capture pollen in your home
• Keep your furry family members off the furniture as pollen gets trapped in pet hair and then transfers onto your couch, bed and chairs
• Do not line dry your clothing outside – dry clothes indoors
Monitor pollen levels daily throughout spring and summer 
• When pollen levels are high, keep your windows closed and limit your outdoor activity

It is estimated that missed work and reduced productivity due to allergies cost U.S. companies more than $250 million a year. Taking these steps both in the workplace and personally can combat the effects of spring allergies and make for happier and safer employees!

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